Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed his tears of joy when Scotland qualified for the European Championship finals – and his optimism for their chances.
The former Scotland boss broke down with Ryan Christie during the Celtic midfielder’s emotional interview in the aftermath of the penalty shoot-out play-off win over Serbia.
Sir Alex, marking 50 days to go until the tournament, told Glasgow’s Euro 2020 team: “When Serbia scored in the last minute I thought ‘oh Christ Almighty, extra-time, no chance’. But they saw it through and dug their heels in.
“But Davie Marshall’s save, and he didn’t even know whether they had qualified or not, and everyone is jumping on top of him.
“And then the Ryan Christie interview. Christ, I was crying when I saw him crying. It was fantastic. You talk about a boost to the country – it was fantastic.
“I’m sure half the country would have watched that night. We will always remember Davie Marshall’s reaction and Ryan Christie’s interview.
“These are special moments which encapsulate exactly what it meant to everyone. Ryan Christie was crying for Scotland, for every Scottish fan.
“So it resonates because of the love Scotland has for football. It was amazing, really amazing.”
Scotland host Czech Republic and Croatia at Hampden either side of a Wembley clash with England and Ferguson is encouraged by Steve Clarke’s progress with his team.
“The thing that impresses me about Steve is that he is unflappable,” the former Aberdeen and Manchester United manager said.
“It doesn’t matter whether the team is doing well or doing badly, his demeanour does not change. He is composed, he is calm, and I think that transmits to the team. There is no panic.
“They have been playing quite well. I think it’s the old story, the scoring of goals. Their performance level has been very good, I have been impressed.
“I look at the midfield players and I think they are as good as anyone, players playing in England. And (Kieran) Tierney has been fantastic at Arsenal, absolutely fantastic, (Andy) Robertson the last two years at Liverpool has been unbelievable.
“And (Scott) McTominay is now emerging as one of Man United’s big players. When you watch Man United pick a team for a big game, McTominay is in it. Good character, great trainer, I know a little bit about the boy.
“I signed him when he was seven or eight. He was actually a centre-forward as a kid. He has sprouted, a little bit like Darren (Fletcher) when he first came.
“McTominay is a similar type as Darren, long, lanky, good winner of the ball, good turn of pace going forward, great attitude to the game. It’s really rewarding for me to see a Scott coming through.
“And (John) McGinn coming through at Aston Villa has been fantastic. (Kenny) McLean at Norwich has had a great season.
“So I’m optimistic. The important thing about the home games is, I know it’s only 12,000 people, but 12,000 at Hampden when they get going is like 50,000 at Wembley. We can create the atmosphere all right.”
Ferguson’s former boys’ club, Govan-based Harmony Row, have received the first of 50 UEFA Euro 2020 Glasgow Club legacy packs to enhance grassroots facilities.
“Harmony Row are doing something to point kids in the right direction,” Ferguson said. “All boys’ clubs are being rewarded for their determination to do well for young people.
“I always think about how it’s changed for young kids growing up now to be footballers.
“In my time you played in the streets, the back courts, you played on uneven bits of ground, bits of brick coming out the ground. That made you players. Playing in the street till all hours, you can’t do that now.
“I was reading that Germany had something like four times the amount of astroturf pitches as Great Britain. There is always the incentive to do better for young people and how they are going to achieve their skills and talents.”